Since many politically outspoken artists have chosen to remain silent while America self-destructs, Mavis Staples has been enlisted by Anti to issue a wake-up call in the form of a message song cycle, echoing her socially conscious Staple Singers recordings of the civil rights era like Long Walk To DC and Why? (Am I Treated So Bad). Of course, it's 40 years later and there was a risk that a return to the form might've come off like a quaint, hand-holding kumbaya singalong. There's no such problem with We'll Never Turn Back. Producer Ry Cooder keeps it all sounding dark and dangerous, while Staples avoids cheap slogans and hollow platitudes to soulfully deliver the straight goods on growing up under Jim Crow in Mississippi and the horrors of post-Katrina New Orleans while questioning why people are dying in a rich man's war. Her great success is making these protest songs personal, and she does it in a most profoundly moving way. This is powerful stuff.